SOUTH Australian sheep producers have been put on alert for footrot following good winter rains in most sheep-producing areas and reports of at least two outbreaks.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regions has already received reports of lameness with footrot confirmed as the cause on two properties in the Adelaide Plains.
The state’s footrot program manager Chris Van Dissel said this indicated the need for producers to be vigilant.
“While 2021 has been wetter than winter 2020, it has also been colder which has slightly delayed footrot activity,” he said.
“However, I am anticipating reports to come in as the temperatures start to rise.”
To assist in monitoring for conditions favourable to footrot across the state, PIRSA has developed an in-house epidemiological tool, enabling the department to now pinpoint districts where spread is likely.
“This tool has provided a very interesting insight into how variable the weather conditions favourable for footrot spread can be between the various sheep producing areas.” Mr Van Dissel said.
“This localised information allows us to provide timely advice to producers on their potential risk.”
Footrot is a contagious bacterial disease which causes inflammation of the skin and hoof which can cause significant economic loss to producers.
“As the disease requires average ambient temperatures above 10⁰C, it tends not to spread readily in the colder winter months in much of South Australia.
“However, if there is adequate moisture in the soil heading into spring, it will favor footrot development in flocks, particularly those in the footrot-prone areas of the state,” Mr Van Dissel said.
Mr Van Dissel said the key to good management of the disease, which impacts both goats and sheep, is early detection.
“I encourage anyone who has experienced good winter rains, to be on the lookout for lame animals as the ambient temperature starts to rise above 10⁰C average over multiple days.
“If footrot is present in any number of sheep it will spread, particularly if sheep are yarded for any reason,” he said.
“Footrot is a notifiable disease and suspicion of any form of footrot must be reported immediately.”
Any property manager or sheep producers who detects lameness in spring should suspect footrot, and report this to an animal health adviser or veterinarian to get a qualified diagnosis and advice on treatment and management.
To assist producers and agents in monitoring flocks for footrot and how to detect early signs, a video is also available as a go-to resource on the PIRSA and Livestock SA websites.
The Footrot Management Program for South Australia is funded through the Sheep Industry Fund Board of Livestock SA.
For more information about footrot and management of the disease visit: https://pir.sa.gov.au/biosecurity/animal_health/sheep/health/footrot
Source – PIRSA.